The Broken Edge, Chapter 62: Downfall

June 24th, 2017 09:27 am
ladyofleithian: (darkpilot: ben's fall)
[personal profile] ladyofleithian
 Luke arrives on the scene with Alora and things go to hell. 

Disclaimer: I own nothing. 

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Leading Off

Gerrymandering: On Monday, the Supreme Court agreed to hear an appeal this fall of a lower court ruling that struck down Wisconsin’s Republican-drawn state Assembly map as an unconstitutional partisan gerrymander. Over the past three decades, the high court has repeatedly held that partisan gerrymandering could in theory run afoul of the Constitution, but it has never struck down any maps on these grounds because it’s never been able to decide upon a standard for when to do so. If, however, the Supreme Court changes course and sides with the district court, a ruling in this case could establish a sweeping precedent leading to a wave of lawsuits against partisan gerrymanders nationwide.

Campaign Action

Republicans aggressively gerrymandered Wisconsin after they gained full control of the state’s government following the 2010 GOP wave. Their Assembly lines were particularly effective: Republicans won a commanding majority in the chamber in 2012 even as Barack Obama carried Wisconsin by seven points and Democratic legislative candidates won more votes statewide than Republicans did. And as shown in the map at the top of this post, Republicans maintained a lopsided 64-35 majority in 2016, despite the fact that Donald Trump won the state by less than one percent of the vote.

While it has regularly invalidated maps for improper racial gerrymandering, the Supreme Court, as noted above, has never struck down a map for excessive partisanship despite 31 years of precedent that partisan gerrymandering could theoretically be unconstitutional. In a 2004 case on this topic, Justice Anthony Kennedy, as the deciding vote, refused to strike down the map at issue on the grounds that it represented an unfair partisan gerrymander. However, Kennedy effectively opened the door for future challengers if they could ever come up with a new standard for evaluating such claims—a standard that would have to satisfy the court’s perennial swing justice.

The plaintiffs in Wisconsin have sought to overcome this problem by proposing a mathematical test called the “efficiency gap” that examines how many votes get “wasted” in each election, which we have explained in detail here. Under this test, if one party routinely wins landslide victories in a minority of seats while the other party wins much more modest yet secure margins in the vast majority of districts, that could signify a gerrymander that has gone so far as to infringe upon the rights of voters to free speech and equal protection. Although this test is imperfect, it provides one of many tools a court could use to judge a map’s partisan distortion.

Final Blists hill pics

June 24th, 2017 12:41 pm
cmcmck: (Default)
[personal profile] cmcmck
 Back to sunny after a glitch yesterday.

We've been down to the POW (People of Wellington) festival this morning- a fun multicultural do in the churchyard and market square. We partook of Bryony's vegan pasties which are SO good!

Any road up- 't pics!



Further pics behind the cut: )
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Montel Williams/USA Today, self-styled Reagan conservative:

For seven years, House Speaker Paul Ryan and congressional Republicans told us they had “a better way.” Many voters took them at their word. We’re finding now, however, that Republicans had no replacement plan, instead cobbling one together last minute. Most likely, congressional Republicans believed they’d never have to actually repeal Obamacare. I’m betting many of them are praying that enough colleagues oppose the bill so that it simply dies, allowing them to blame Democratic obstruction.

At the end of the day, I don’t want another tax cut at the expense of another father not being able to get his daughter the lifesaving care I was able to provide my daughter. No father should have to choose between back-breaking debt and his child’s life. That is the inevitable result of the Senate proposal.

Republicans need to own the fact they’ve created a monster by lying to the base for the last seven years. They need to come clean. The truth is that they don’t really think this is a good bill. They are afraid of their own voters, to whom they gave a bad idea as a battle cry.

So on the bill, Dean Heller (NV) is a no. a real no. A profile in courage no. And Rs are mad at him. Rand Paul is a probable no (he’s enough of a jerk to do it, to spite his peers).  The other conservatives are fake nos. Cruz, e.g., is in it for the attention. Collins and Murkowski? Maybe Murkowski, hard to trust Collins. Flake, Portman? We’ll see but if it fails, it won’t fail by one. None of them have the courage for that.

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Masha Gessen is the author of The Future Is History: How Totalitarianism Reclaimed Russia, which will be published in October. In the July issue of Harper’s, she writes—The Reichstag Fire Next Time. The coming crackdown. Some excerpts:

When each day brings more news than we are used to seeing in a week, and the kind of news that only the most catastrophic imagination can accommodate, we find ourselves talking about the Reichstag fire. Time feels both accelerated and slowed down, and so we imagine that we have been talking about the fire for years. It is the new president’s new clothes: invisible, yet always present in our perception of him.

White-Barn-Owl-w-text.jpg

The Reichstag fire, it goes almost without saying, will be a terrorist attack, and it will mark our sudden, obvious, and irreversible descent into autocracy. Here is what it looks like: On a sunny morning you turn on the television as you make coffee, or the speaker in your shower streams the news, or the radio comes on when you turn the ignition key in your car. The voices of the newscasters are familiar, but their pitch is altered, and they speak with a peculiar haste. Something horrible has happened—it is not yet clear what—and thousands are dead, and more are expected to die. You hear the word “terror.” You feel it. [...]

The actual fire in the Reichstag—the German parliament building—burned on the evening of February 27, 1933. Adolf Hitler had been appointed chancellor four weeks earlier, and already he had begun placing restrictions on the press and expanding the powers of the police. Yet it is the fire, rather than Hitler’s toxic first steps, that is remembered as the event after which things were never the same, in Germany or in the world. [...]

To totalitarianism watchers, Trump’s campaign rallies, which segued into his victory rallies, including his “America First” inauguration, have looked familiar and perhaps more worrisome than an imaginary future fire. To historians of the twenty-first century, however, they will likely look like logical steps from the years of war rhetoric that preceded them, not quantum leaps. A nation can be mobilized only if it knows its enemy and believes in its own peril.

It is not clear how many Germans attended that May Day parade because the spirit moved them and how many were compelled by fear or force. Four and a half decades later, in “The Power of the Powerless,” the Czech dissident Václav Havel described an individual who “lives within a lie,” the lie of the official ideology, without consciously accepting or rejecting it. Totalitarianism robs a person of the very ability to form an opinion.

TOP COMMENTSHIGH IMPACT STORIES

QUOTATION

“In my communications with you and other top officials in the national security community, it has become clear that you possess explosive information about close ties and coordination between Donald Trump, his top advisors, and the Russian government — a foreign interest openly hostile to the United States, which Trump praises at every opportunity. The public has a right to know this information. I wrote to you months ago calling for this information to be released to the public. There is no danger to American interests from releasing it. And yet, you continue to resist calls to inform the public of this critical information.”
                    ~
Sen. Harry Reid, letter to then-FBI Director James Comey, October 30, 2016


TWEET OF THE DAY

x

BLAST FROM THE PAST

At Daily Kos on this date in 2005Rove Plays The New McCarthy, GOP Lies About It:

The GOP is flopping around trying to play the denial game on Rove's New McCarthyism.  Rove didn't mention Democrats they say. Oh really?

"Moderation and restraint is not what I felt -- and moderation and restraint is not what was called for. It was a moment to summon our national will -- and to brandish steel. MoveOn.org, Michael Moore and Howard Dean may not have agreed with this, but the American people did."

So the DNC Chair is not a Democrat? Fucking liars. But wait it gets better.

On today’s Kagro in the Morning show: The weekend’s here, so let’s get ready for Trump to go nuts. His Bayrock buddies are back in the news. How history dealt with leaders who lose it. Another Qatar backgrounder. Trump’s getting richer off the presidency. And is getting big tax refunds, too?
 

YouTube | iTunes | LibSyn | Keep us on the air! Donate via Patreon or Square Cash

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Donald Trump's White House is positively toxic. Friday's news alone was a tour de force of the all-encompassing virulence that's now seeping from Trump throughout the entire executive branch and everything it touches.

Trump's days start with a crack-of-dawn phone call about everything Russia that's clearly aimed at distracting him and his thumbs from Twitter. Why his aides aren't just jingling some keys in front of him is a mystery, but the call is nothing but a venting session intended to soothe a sulking and brooding pr*sident.

Trump's entirely self-generated Russia predicament apparently has him miffed at his White House counsel Don McGahn. Somehow, McGahn has failed to stop Trump from engaging in a series of self-defeating, ill-advised, impulsive, and often petulant behaviors that have now made him the central focus of an obstruction probe. And make no mistake, that's McGahn's fault in Trump's view.

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is also causing a bit of consternation at the White House because, instead of hiring every appointee pushed his way, he's been "reviewing candidates" and insisting on a departmental assessment as he reportedly tries to restructure the agency. (Honestly, this news is a bit of a head scratcher since Tillerson helped gut the agency of expertise and has mostly functioned as a Trump minion with respect to Russia.) But whatever the problem with filling positions there, it appears to be a two-way street, with some Tillerson picks being entirely sidelined by the White House (similar to the difficulty Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin has experienced with trying to get White House sign-offs on his top posts.)

And then there's Trump's inspirational jabs at his cabinet heads, like when he pantomimed firing his Veterans Affairs chief Friday during a bill signing for the VA Accountability and Whistleblower Protection Act. At the East Room ceremony, Trump joked with VA Secretary David Shulkin that he was sure the law would be "properly implemented," to which Shulkin responded, "Absolutely."

Smiling, Trump responded, “Better be, David, or …” He then made a pistol with his right hand, aimed it at Shulkin and mouthed his signature words: “You're fired!”

Nothing like a little light humor from someone with sociopathic tendencies.

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Rick Perry may now be able to remember the name of his own agency—though we can’t be sure. However, it’s clear that he can’t remember basic science. In a visit to the climate denial promotion zone, also known as CNBC, Perry showed that he was right up there in the clan of Republicans who have taken Trump’s election as an excuse to not just deny that people have anything to do with climate change, but to trash the most basic aspects of why there is climate change.

Energy Secretary Rick Perry made it official on Monday: He denies the science behind human-caused climate change—specifically, the fact that burning fossil fuels increases carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, trapping more heat. Asked whether he believes CO2 is “the primary control knob for the temperature of the Earth and for climate,” Perry replied, “No, most likely the primary control knob is the ocean waters and this environment that we live in.” 

Those blasted oceans. Always fiddling with the knobs. But Perry’s response didn’t sit well with the people who have to deal with climate’s little brother, the weather.

It is critically important that you understand that emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases are the primary cause [of climate change]. This is a conclusion based on the comprehensive assessment of scientific evidence.  It is based on multiple independent lines of evidence that have been affirmed by thousands of independent scientists and numerous scientific institutions around the world. We are not aware of any scientific institution with relevant subject matter expertise that has reached a different conclusion. …

Without this fundamental understanding of science, it is impossible to discuss potential policy changes in meaningful ways. 

Perry may need to get his smart glasses to read that one to him. Short version: The weather men say your thinking is mostly cloudy with a 100 percent chance of being wrong.

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A federal judge has temporarily halted the Trump regime’s attempt to deport more than 100 Iraqi Christians, mostly Chaldean Catholics, following a class action lawsuit filed by the ACLU. Families, advocates, and experts have argued the deportations back to Iraq would be "like sending cattle to a slaughter”:

The Justice Department had argued that the detainees, including many who were recently rounded up after decades in the United States, must go to immigration court to try to remain in the country, not U.S. District Court. But the American Civil Liberties Union said they might be deported before an immigration judge can consider their requests to stay.

[U.S. District Judge Mark] Goldsmith heard arguments Wednesday. He said he needs more time to consider complex legal issues.

Potential physical harm “far outweighs any conceivable interest the government might have in the immediate enforcement of the removal orders before this court can clarify whether it has jurisdiction to grant relief to petitioners on the merits of their claims,” Goldsmith said.

“The court took a lifesaving action by blocking our clients from being immediately sent back to Iraq,” said Lee Gelernt, deputy director of the ACLU’s Immigrants’ Rights Project, in response to Judge Goldsmith’s decision. “They should have a chance to show that their lives are in jeopardy if forced to return.”

Detroit’s Iraqi community has been rallying for the release of the detainees, some of whom have spent decades in the U.S., others nearly their entire lives:

"My father has been here for almost 30 years. This is my home. This is his home, and this is his country," said 22 year old Rita Ghanam.  Ghanam's father Sarmad Ghanam is one of the detainees now awaiting his fate in a prison cell in Youngstown, Ohio.

Ghanam says her father was taken from his home in front of her younger sister on Sunday.

"They're pulling him out and he said 'I just want to kiss my daughter. I might not see her again,' and they wouldn't even allow him to kiss her," said Ghanam.

Passing On A Local Party Invite

June 23rd, 2017 05:31 pm
avalonautumn: priestess home (homelife)
[personal profile] avalonautumn
Still feeling better and doing well! *knocks on wood*

I've been playing catch-up to all my chores and obligations for the last few days since last week was nearly a wash and much of the week before that. I've also enjoyed NOT being in pain or exhausted. I'm tired easily, but I went on a walk yesterday and felt really tired only after real exertion, which at least feels more 'honest' to me. It shouldn't, I know, but it does.

I can't believe it's almost July already! The spring took forever to move forward, but summer is already rushing by and it's just barely started! I wonder why things so often seem to go down like that. It sucks, though...

A neighbor is throwing her annual Summer Solstice party tonight, and I'm just not up for it. Last year I went to meet some neighbors, but this year I don't feel like socializing. At least not tonight. I am just starting to feel better and my digestion is all screwy (from antibiotics) and dealing with people who are mostly strangers (who barely spoke to me last year even when I was very friendly) just doesn't sound very appealing right now...

I hesitate to skip it, though, because I don't want to hurt the neighbor's feelings-- and she can be a bit touchy. She and one old guy were the ONLY ones who spoke to me last year at all when I attended, while the other 2 dozen just completely ignored me. Not a friendly bunch, all in all, and so now I don't give a shit to attend her party, even though I like her and she was decent. Her guests didn't make me feel welcome, and I just can't summon the desire to sign up for more of that! You know?

So I asked Cat to make an excuse for me (as she will go over for a short while) while I stay at home for the evening.

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How far will Republicans in Missouri go to push their pro-life agenda? So far it seems, that they are willing to ban women who use birth control from even working. In what can only be described as pure zealotry, Republicans are trying to pass legislation to allow discrimination against women for their personal reproductive choices. 

Missouri’s Senate is considering legislation that would allow employers and landlords to discriminate against women who use birth control or have had abortions. The bill, which has the support of the state’s governor, Eric Greitens, was approved by the Missouri House Tuesday.

Known as SB 5, the bill was first passed by the Senate on June 14 following a special session called by Greitens. His aim was to overturn an ordinance that prevents employers and housing providers from punishing women for their reproductive health choices, according to a report by Feministing, a feminist website.

This is so utterly invasive, bizarre and out-of-control that it almost defies logic. It is absolutely incomprehensible and un-American. Except that Republicans are hyper-obsessed with controlling women’s bodies. So this makes perfect sense according to the puritanical framework from which they operate. 

Given the Senate’s vote on June 14, it it seen as likely to approve the updated version of SB 5. This would mean that landlords could refuse to offer housing to women based on their reproductive health choices, while employers could fire female staff members who were using birth control, or refuse to hire them. And while of course this isn't information most landlords or employers have access to, under SB 5 they could ask women what forms of reproductive health care they are using.

Never underestimate the lengths to which Republicans will go to take us back in time. This is positively repugnant. What’s next? Are landlords and employers going to go to the gynecologist with their female employees as well? Are they going to sign off on their pelvic exams and ultra sounds and the like? This is why our choices at the local, state and federal ballot box matter so much. Lawmakers like these should never be allowed anywhere near women—never mind near state legislatures where they can come up with hideous laws like these. If this travesty of a law does pass, let’s hope with all our might that lawyers sue the hell out of the governor and Republicans and take it all the way to the Supreme Court. This is tantamount to punishing women simply for being women and making free choices for themselves.  

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Donald Trump has proposed cutting the State Department budget by a third. Donald Trump has failed to even nominate candidates for many of the most critical positions. So who is to blame for not enough of Trump’s stooges scoring slots at the State Department? If you said Donald Trump, you’re obviously wrong.

The White House is becoming increasingly frustrated with Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and a close-knit circle of aides over the slow pace of hiring and a chokehold on information and access to Tillerson, according to senior Trump administration officials and others familiar with the rift.

Tillerson simply refuses to put people Trump hasn’t named into jobs he won’t pay for. However, Rex does seem to adding his own layer of molasses to Trump’s slow-down-machine.

Tillerson also sketched a lengthy timeline for his internal review that would include a period of study and planning through 2017 and changes to the department’s structure and staffing next year. 

The former Exxon CEO looks to be in no hurry to fill empty posts. So any Trump associates expecting that job as undersecretary of excessive graft should take a nap until … say this time next year. 

Naturally, Trump isn’t happy with Tillerson. But then, Trump isn’t happy with Spicer, or Bannon, or Priebus, or anyone else. However, unlike those others, the secretary of State seems to be doing anything but hurrying to make amends with the boss.

Others involved in the process, however, said Tillerson aides have sat on or ignored White House requests for action on personnel.

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From the GREAT STATE OF MAINE…

Late Night Snark: First Edition of Summer Edition

"Summer starts today! Which used to mean news would slow to a trickle, padded out by gratuitous T&A reports from the beach and stories about skunks with their heads stuck in peanut butter jars. Oh, I miss those days."

---Samantha Bee

"Senate Majority leader Mitch McConnell showed us a draft of his top-secret new health care legislation…and wouldn’t you know it, the bill includes a big tax cut for rich people. They're calling the plan 'Better Care.' As in, just imagine how much better this plan would be if the people who wrote it cared."

---Jimmy Kimmel

"The American Health Care Act---an act which answers the question, what if a bus-stop ad for a personal injury lawyer was a health care policy?"

---John Oliver

Daily_Show_guns_police.jpg
---The Daily Show

"We don’t know too much about what will be in the final [Trumpcare] bill because all of the negotiations so far have taken place behind closed doors. They even put a sock on the doorknob so no one barges in while they're screwing poor people. It's just polite."

---Stephen Colbert

"Today was National Vanilla Milkshake Day. Or as Mike Pence calls it: Spicy Tuesday!”

---Seth Meyers

Your west coast-friendly edition of Cheers and Jeers starts below the fold... [Swoosh!!] RIGHTNOW! [Gong!!]

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Donald Trump raised the profile of the FBI's Russia investigation by fueling speculation about whether President Obama wiretapped his phones. He then fired the guy in charge of that investigation, triggering the appointment of a special counsel. He also publicly and privately took steps to stymie that investigation, resulting in a probe into whether he obstructed justice. Now he's losing patience and he knows who the real culprit of his calamity is: White House counsel Don McGahn. Politico writes:

Trump started the week by giving McGahn, a loyal supporter who was among the first Washington establishment figures to sign on with his presidential campaign, a dressing down in the Oval Office for not doing more to squash the Russia probe early on.

The episode — recounted by four people familiar with the conversation — came as part of a broader discussion on Monday about the president’s frustrations with special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election, which now includes the question of whether Trump himself tried to obstruct the investigation by firing FBI Director James Comey.

This is just so laughable. Trump has single-handedly driven this probe, starting with whom he hired to run his campaign to his incessant and incriminating tweets. But somehow McGahn is at fault for not squashing the probe. Perhaps, he should have broken both of Trump's thumbs and flushed his phone down the toilet. That would have been a start.

The Russia probe is now being almost entirely handled by Trump's personal lawyer Marc Kasowitz, while McGahn focuses on things that normal White House counsels do, like vetting appointees and judges and offering legal advice about legislation and executive orders. But by taking aim at McGahn, Trump is once again cutting off his nose to spite his face.

McGahn’s fall from the president’s good graces is particularly noteworthy because he occupies such a crucial role in the White House. He’s one of the few senior members of the administration with Washington chops. As a former commissioner of the Federal Election Commission, longtime campaign lawyer, and former attorney to House Republicans, he knows how to work the government’s levers of power, even if that involves jamming them up.

Keep it up, Trump! No one does it better.

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[ SECRET POST #3824 ]

June 23rd, 2017 06:58 pm
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⌈ Secret Post #3824 ⌋

Warning: Some secrets are NOT worksafe and may contain SPOILERS.

01.


More! )


Notes:

Secrets Left to Post: 00 pages, 00 secrets from Secret Submission Post #547.
Secrets Not Posted: [ 0 - broken links ], [ 0 - not!secrets ], [ 0 - not!fandom ], [ 1 - too big ], [ 0 - repeat ].
Current Secret Submissions Post: here.
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Donald Trump begins many mornings at 6:30 AM with a call with a member of his Russia defense legal team, according to a new Washington Post report on Trump’s current emotional state and the latest infighting among his top advisers.

His advisers have encouraged the calls — which the early-to-rise Trump takes from his private quarters in the White House residence — in hopes that he can compartmentalize the widening Russia investigation. By the time the president arrives for work in the Oval Office, the thinking goes, he will no longer be consumed by the Russia probe that he complains hangs over his presidency like a darkening cloud.

It rarely works, however. Asked whether the tactic was effective, one top White House adviser paused for several seconds and then just laughed.

These are the strategic minds running the White House? People who think that having Donald Trump begin his day by rehashing the thing that makes him most angry will help him set it aside and go on with his day? It’s not working, of course. Boasting 22 sources, because that’s how badly Trump’s team is leaking these days, the article reports that:

Some in the White House fret over what they view as the president’s fits of rage, and Trump’s longtime friends say his mood has been more sour than at any point since they have known him. They privately worry about his health, noting that he appears to have gained weight in recent months and that the darkness around his eyes reveals his stress.

But never fear!

Cartoon: Hot take wave

June 23rd, 2017 09:51 pm
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I fully acknowledge that I’m part of the opinion-industrial-complex and its role in creating an uninformed public. But that doesn’t mean I have to like it.

Follow me on Twitter @BrianMc_Fadden.

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The New Republic has a thoughtful piece examining the potential consequences of the GOP's healthcare repeal bill on someone who becomes the victim of a shooting, requires extensive care, and thank goodness, survives that attack, as Republican Congressman Steve Scalise hopefully will.

Naturally, Republicans and Democrats alike have shied away from politicizing last week's shooting of one of their own (though a pro-Karen Handel Super PAC saw it as fair game in the GA-06 race). But the short-term and long-term impacts of the GOP's healthcare repeal bill on someone in Scalise's situation are worthy of examination, which is exactly what Brian Beutler endeavored to do.

Uninsurance is not a widespread problem for people who work on Capitol Hill, which means Scalise will likely be spared the second-most horrifying consequence of his injuries: the financial cost.

Through no fault of his own, Scalise has just incurred hundreds of thousands, if not millions of dollars in medical expenses. And while he may ultimately be responsible for a tiny, tiny, tiny fraction of these costs, he and his Republican colleagues in Congress are, as he convalesces, attempting to expose millions of Americans to the kind of financial ruin he has so far avoided.

The elephant in the room since the shooting in Alexandria has been the tension between elected Republicans’ reflexive expectation that one of their colleagues receive outstanding care at essentially no monetary cost to him, and what they believe millions of other Americans should expect if they meet a similarly unlucky fate.

Beutler asked Scalise's office for redacted copies of his insurance records following the shooting so as to make "his total medical costs and his out-of-pocket costs a matter of public record." As one might imagine, his office was not responsive to the inquiry.

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Nope. Americans just don’t believe Donald Trump’s story about his conversations with then-FBI Director James Comey before he fired Comey. An NBC News/Wall Street Journal found that people believed Comey’s account over Trump’s by a two-to-one margin, with 45 percent believing Comey and a tiny 22 percent believing Trump.

Just 50 percent of Republicans believe Trump, though only 10 percent believe Comey, so Republicans really don’t quite know what to do with this. Half of them realize Trump is not telling the truth, but they can’t follow that one out to its logical end.

The bad news for Trump doesn’t stop there:

The NBC/WSJ poll also finds 46 percent of Americans disapproving of Trump's decision to fire Comey — up from 38 percent in May.

Just 27 percent approve of Comey's ouster. [...]

According to the NBC/WSJ poll, 53 percent of Americans believe that Russia's government interfered in the 2016 election, compared with 36 percent who disagree.

This is the second poll this week with similar results. No wonder Trump had to have his ego massaged at a campaign rally on Wednesday.

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Donald Trump is so yugely succeeding at making America great again, that ideas he’s suggesting during those incoherent, televised rants he calls “campaign speeches” are instantly becoming law. Or maybe it’s just that these “new immigration rules” he suggested during his Iowa rally this week were already signed into existence over two decades ago by a certain former president he once liked, until his more qualified wife massively kicked his orange rear in the popular vote last November:

Reading from his trusted teleprompter, Trump declared, “The time has come for new immigration rules which say that those seeking admission into our country must be able to support themselves financially and should not use welfare for a period of at least five years.”

Recognizing the popularity of what he’d just said, the president added, “We’ll be putting in legislation to that effect very shortly.”

As it turns out, that won’t be necessary. The Hill reported that this idea already exists in a law created 20 years ago.

Known as the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996 (PRWORA), the legislation was passed during the administration of former President Bill Clinton and said that an immigrant is “not eligible for any Federal means-tested public benefit” for 5 years, which starts on the date the immigrant enters the country.

There are exceptions under the law as to what qualifies as a federal-means tested public benefit. Some exceptions include certain medical assistance, “in-kind emergency disaster relief,” and public health assistance for some vaccines.

“I suppose it’s possible Trump intends to ‘put in legislation’ to change the restrictions that already exist, but it seems more likely that the president is simply unaware of current federal policy,” notes Maddow’s Steve Benen.

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Campaign Action

Sen. Dean Heller (R-NV) announced Friday afternoon in a joint press conference with Nevada's Gov. Brian Sandoval that he will oppose the Senate Trumpcare bill "in this form." Heller's criticisms of the bill were pointed and many.

Heller laid out a laundry list of concerns with the Senate version of the bill, including concerns that rolling back Medicaid eligibility would eventually leave a nearly half-billion dollar hole in the state budget, and wouldn’t do anything to lower premiums. He said revisions that would make him more comfortable with the bill were unlikely to move forward given that conservative factions in the Senate demanding the bill go even further in rolling back the federal insurance law.

“It’s going to be very difficult to get me to a yes,” Heller said. […]

Sandoval — who has long held concerns about federal efforts to roll back Medicaid eligibility — said the Senate version of the bill would require the state to find approximately $480 million to continue existing levels of coverage, which he said the state “cannot sustain.” The Republican governor said he felt that he had made a “personal commitment” to the newly eligible population, and promised to continue to fight for continuing insurance coverage. […]

“At first glance, I have serious concerns about the bill’s impact on the Nevadans who depend on Medicaid,” [Heller] said in a statement.

The DSCC isn't buying it.

Make your Republican senator feel the heat. Call their office EVERY DAY at (202) 224-3121 to demand that they say NO to ripping health care away from millions of Americans. No on Trumpcare. Then, tell us how it went.

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This makes the totally unnecessary, retroactive capital gains tax cut included in Trumpcare all the worse. The bill would force people on Medicaid to reapply every six months, or even more frequently.

x

Yes, that is savage. It’s unnecessary. It’s cruel. It’s a “fuck you” to all of low-income America, to disabled adults, to children—to the millions of people on Medicaid. Are the “moderates” in the Republican Senate conference going to capitulate to this, too?

Make your Republican senator feel the heat. Call their office EVERY DAY at (202) 224-3121 to demand that they say NO to ripping health care away from millions of Americans. No on Trumpcare. Then, tell us how it went.

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Today’s comic by Mark Fiore is Friend or foe

Cartoon by Mark Fiore - Friend or foe

What’s coming up on Sunday Kos …

  • A final ode to Cliff Huxtable: Burying the past in order to deal with the present, by Kelly Macias
  • Right-wing ‘news’ sites distract from nightmare Trumpcare with scary fairy tales of freedom lost, by Ian Reifowitz
  • The Democratic Party does not need a civil war, now or later, by Egberto Willies
  • Hot enough for you? It’s likely to get worse. Much worse, by Sher Watts Spooner
  • Senator Portman: 220,000 Ohioans with substance abuse coverage will lose it under repeal, by David Akadjian
  • Step, Tap, Stomp: The power of dance rhythms, by Denise Oliver Velez
  • The consequences of voting against you best interests, by Mark E Andersen

Gabe Pressman, pioneering New York broadcast reporter dead at 93.

Sierra Club’s Michael Brune weighs in on delisting Yellowstone grizzly bears: 

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service removed grizzly bears in the Greater Yellowstone region on Thursday from the Endangered Species List. The decision comes despite serious concerns in the scientific community about a declining, isolated population with diminishing food resources and record-high mortalities, as well as strong opposition from an unprecedented number of Tribal Nations.

The Trump administration turned a deaf ear to repeated calls for consultation from dozens of Tribal Nations. States have already made it clear that without endangered species protections, immediate steps will be taken to reduce the number of bears in the area, including through trophy hunting—a move that will reverse grizzly bear recovery in the region.

California’s Senate president pro-term Kevin de León is at the center of West Coast resistance to Donald Trump.

EPA Inspector General will evaluate agency’s methane measurements:

The Environmental Protection Agency's Office of Inspector General will investigate how the agency estimates methane emissions from the oil and gas sector after an environmental group alleged that its emission estimates and regulations are based, in part, on faulty studies.

The evaluation, announced Wednesday, will focus on a pair of studies conducted jointly by the University of Texas–Austin and the Environmental Defense Fund in 2013-2014 that found methane emissions to be lower than EPA estimates. The studies, which were done in cooperation with a number of oil and gas companies, were subsequently challenged for allegedly using faulty equipment and underestimating emissions.

House committee pursues founding of military “space corps”:

Congress took formal steps on Thursday toward requiring the US military to establish a dedicated "Space Corps," as concern mounts over the vulnerability of American space assets and their central role in modern war-fighting. [...]

"We are convinced that the Department of Defense is unable to take the measures necessary to address these challenges effectively and decisively, or even recognize the nature and scale of its problems," said Rep. Mike Rogers (R-AL), who chairs the House Armed Services Subcommittee for Strategic Forces, and Rep. Jim Cooper (D-TN), the subcommittee's ranking member, in a joint statement. "Thus, Congress has to step in."

Study: White Christians have a blind spot in detecting racial inequality:

One of the most notable markers of difference in how people perceive prejudice in America turns out to be faith identity. The American Values Atlas by the nonpartisan Public Religion Research Institute reveals marked discrepancies in how members of different faith traditions perceive prejudice against African Americans, immigrants, and members of the LGBTQ community. The biggest divide? As Dr. Robert Jones, PRRI’s CEO and author of The End of White Christian America, told Vox, it’s between “white Christian groups — and everybody else."

On today’s Kagro in the Morning show: The weekend’s here, so let’s get ready for Trump to go nuts. His Bayrock buddies are back in the news. How history dealt with leaders who lose it. Another Qatar backgrounder. Trump’s getting richer off the presidency. And is getting big tax refunds, too?

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Senate Republicans appear set on voting to dismantle healthcare coverage for millions of disabled Americans and other vulnerable groups next week, but don’t worry, undocumented immigrant families, because House Republicans haven’t forgotten about you either. According to Politico, Republican legislators, led by Rep. Bob Goodlatte, (R-VA) are also readying even more bills targeting undocumented immigrants and sanctuary cities:

One of the bills to see a floor vote, dubbed Kate's Law, boosts penalties for immigrants who try to re-enter the United States after being deported. It is named after Kate Steinle, a young woman who was shot and killed in San Francisco by an immigrant who had been deported repeatedly yet returned. Trump frequently discussed the killing on the campaign trail last year.

The second is legislation that goes after so-called sanctuary cities — localities that limit cooperation with federal immigration authorities, including by refusing to hold an immigrant in jail longer just so federal officials can pick him or her up to be deported. Sanctuary cities, usually liberal jurisdictions such as New York, have also been a major Trump target.

The legislation is penned by Rep. Goodlatte, who recently pushed a bill that would require Immigration and Customs Enforcement [ICE] deportation officers to have access to not just standard-issue handguns and stun guns, but also M-4 rifles or equivalents.” Meanwhile, federal immigration agencies run amok with rogue agents newly emboldened by Donald Trump’s presidency, with oftentimes deadly consequences.

These kinds of anti-immigrant bills are all being done under the guise of keeping America safe, when in reality the administration has been sweeping up and demonizing thousands of undocumented immigrants without criminal records. The current administration has the resources and capability to prioritize who should and shouldn’t get deported—the last administration was trying to do it but there was constant sabotaging from Republicans—but it becomes more and more clear every day they just want everyone with a tan out.

[syndicated profile] dailykos_feed

We’ll soon find out. Sen. Capito (R-WV) was actually willing to meet with constituents about Trumpcare, more than many of her Republican colleagues have done. But what happens after this meeting is what counts. 

x

In this clip she’s meeting a mother who talks about her adult daughter who has lived with cancer for four years, imploring the senator to understand how Trumpcare could ruin everything for her daughter.

She's 41 years old. She's been fighting this cancer for four years, very diligently. [She] has maintained her job, has gotten promotions, has led teams. As sick as she has been, she would not be alive today if it wasn't for the ACA (Affordable Care Act). […]

With the cap, if she ever lost her insurance—in seven months she went over $1,200,000, and this has been going on for four years. Pre-existing condition, and we're not sure how long she's gonna be able to work. Maybe forever, that's what our goal is.

But these are real people. My daughter. And so I just want you to have that in your brain when you look at this [healthcare bill].

So, Sen. Capito. Will it be in your head when you vote on this next week? Or will you stay true to form and capitulate to your leader Mitch McConnell? Like your people always do.

Your Republican senator must feel the heat. Write them an angry letter giving them a piece of your mind.

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Campaign Action

How blatantly heartless and craven is Mitch McConnell's Trumpcare bill? Even Fox Business will tell you. Look at this headline: "Senate Health Bill Gives Huge Tax Cuts to Businesses, High-Income Households." They're not necessarily saying it in a celebratory way, not when they come to the totally gratuitous tax break for the super-rich that's hidden away in the Obamacare repeal part of the bill.

The tax portions of the proposal, a draft of which was released on Thursday in advance of a possible vote next week, are very similar to the elements in the version the House passed last month. The plan operates like the 2010 Affordable Care Act in reverse. Instead of raising taxes to pay for expanded insurance coverage, it reduces coverage and cuts taxes.

The taxes it would remove were created to pay for Obamacare. The most notable is a 3.8% tax on investment income, including capital gains and dividends. The tax only applies to individuals with incomes exceeding $200,000 and married couples making more than $250,000.

Like in the House bill, that tax would be repealed as of Jan. 1, 2017, dropping the top capital-gains tax rate to 20% from 23.8%. Under that measure, people who sold assets earlier this year, even before they knew if the tax cut would happen, would benefit. Retroactive tax cuts like this don't create an incentive and can yield windfall gains for people who already made decisions. [emphasis added]

It's just a stocking stuffer to the main present of huge tax cuts the super-rich are getting; it’s blood money wrung out of Medicaid.

It's totally gratuitous, the largest single tax cut in the whole bill. As Former Special Assistant to President Obama for Economic Policy Seth Hanlon tweeted "There is no reason to make a tax cut on capital gains/dividends *retroactive* unless your purpose is to shovel money to rich people."

A retroactive capital gains tax cut, as Fox Business tells us, gives absolutely no incentive for investing in anything that will boost the economy or create jobs. It's just a reward for being part of the 1 percent.

[syndicated profile] dailykos_feed

Campaign Action

Because there isn't enough drama in the prospect of millions of people being kicked out of their health care and the destruction of a key part of the social safety net, we're being treated to the process story the day after Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell released his version of Trumpcare. The breathless reports from Politico are all about how McConnell will bring together his conference to pass this. Will he really be winning by losing? asks the Times.

WASHINGTON — When it comes to managing Republicans’ best interests, Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the majority leader, rarely loses. So it is possible that Mr. McConnell views the potential failure of a hastily written health care bill as an eventual boon.

What that boon is is never really explained in the article, oddly, but it does give a good set up to talk about all the potential obstacles to this actually happening, with the key graph here (though the reporter might not have noticed it):

Mr. McConnell plays his strategic cards so close to the vest that a queen of hearts must be tattooed on his tie. He may, of course, be convinced that the Senate can pass this bill. Perhaps after some moaning, and some changes to the bill through amendments, the 51 senators needed to get the bill over the line (or 50 if Vice President Mike Pence is summoned) will choose a good-enough effort over being tarred as the person who declined to make good on a seven-year promise to unravel President Barack Obama’s signature domestic policy achievement.
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Posted by Brian Goulet


Goulet Q&A is now available as an audio podcast! Click here  for the RSS feed to use in your podcast app of choice, or click here for a direct download.

In this episode, I talk about how to become a nibmeister, showing ALL the Premieres, and tips for using fountain pens on cheap paper!

This week:
  • very crazy, very busy last week personally
  • low-key Father's day, was nice
  • Summer has begun (for Northern Hemisphere!)
  • toured my local Amazon Distribution Center

New/Upcoming Products - (3:11)

Pens/Writing - (7:58)

1) joe.robs- Instagram - (8:02)
I am fifteen and am extremely interested in fountain pens. I have decided that I would like to take a step further into fountainpendom and become a nib smith or nibmeister (someone who grinds nibs or does nib work on pens, I don't know the proper name for them). I was wondering how can I take this step and how would I learn. Thanks, Joe.
  • nibmeister is a fairly appropriate term, the most commonly I've heard used any way
  • there's no official training/protocol for it these days
  • it's a true "trade" craft, so learning it from someone that already does it would be most ideal
  • there are really only a handful of individuals who do it, and they're tough to get a hold of because they're so busy
  • the best way to do it is to teach yourself, quite honestly
  • there are some videos out there where people do tuning and grinding, watch as much as you can
  • scour the internet
  • get your hands on as many junk nibs as possible, play with them!
  • you'll want a good loupe, micromesh, and a grinding wheel setup of some kind (dremel with diamond wheel is probably easiest to come by)
  • if there are any pen shows near you ever, go and see if you can plant yourself by a nibmeister and watch what they do
  • sometimes there are training classes at pen shows, like Richard Binder's class at DC
  • if this is something you REALLY want to do, you're going to have to make it happen, it will not be handed to you on a silver platter
  • you're 15, you're very young, and most people who would be your potential clients will find your age to be a barrier, so just mentally prepare yourself for that
  • in order to make up for that fact, you will need to become exceedingly excellent at your craft
  • learn everything you can, find every book that even mentions a nib and memorize it, practice and learn everything you can in all the free time you have
  • if you even have moderate talent, you can at least pay a good portion of your way through school doing it
  • if you're good and practice a ton, you can probably make a career of it...go get it

2) Athena- Email - (21:12)
With summer coming up and a new Edison Nouveau Premier due, I was wondering if you could do a round down of all the Edison Nouveau Premieres (regulars and special editions). In the past I could not picture myself spending $150 for a pen. Now that I have could to appreciate their value, I have missed out on many (Fire Ball, Cobalt and the Arctic Currents). Then, I found out there was a matte black that was sold as a regular edition. How I wish I had come into the fountain pen scene earlier. 
  • Let's look at all the pens!

3) James- Email - (36:25)
What does the feeder tube do, and why might it play a role in controlling ink flow?
  • it assists in the capillary action of the ink
  • ink can have a tendency to hang up at the end of the converter, so the feeder tube will assist in drawing the ink from inside the converter through to the feed
  • without it, the pen could have a tendency to dry up with certain inks that don't flow as freely

4) perogata- Instagram - (38:26)
The way we talk about nib feedback is rather one-dimensional. There seem to be other qualities to feedback than the "magnitude". How can we better classify feedback, and describe the difference between e.g. a Platinum 3776 and an ill-tuned IPG nib pen? Maybe we can borrow inspiration from the photography community, where they have invented all kinds of terms to explain good versus bad bokeh types?
  • There are some terms I commonly associate with feedback (which is admittedly a very general term)
  • Smooth/buttery/glassy- a highly polished nib will glide across the page, and any of these terms could be used to describe what that feels like
  • Toothy- this is generally where nibs such as Platinum 3776 14k nibs, Kara Kustoms Titanium, and Aurora Ipsilon fall. It doesn't cut the paper, it just feels "grabby" evenly in all directions
  • Scratchy- this is where something feels "wrong", especially if it's worse in one direction than another. It may cut the paper you're writing on, gathering up paper fibers into the slit of the nib
  • We could probably come up with something more granular, like the "x out of 10" ranking that's often used to describe wetness/flow

5) kuyaxdr- Instagram - (43:52)
What are some tips for using FPs on cheap, everyday paper?
  • this is a really popular question, because especially in the US, we don't have great FP paper as a standard in most places
  • "cheap" paper will be more absorbent, often feather and bleed more
  • because of the absorbency, it will almost always spread more, making your lines appear broader than they do on more ink-resistant paper
  • go with as fine a nib as you can stand, ideally EF or F, Japanese nibs in this size will generally be ground a little finer
  • go with pens that don't gush ink, especially be conscious when using flex nibs
  • steel nibs will often put down a little less ink that gold nibs, because gold is softer and will put more ink down with pressure 
  • try not to write with a lot of pressure, that puts down more ink
  • some ink will perform better than others on cheap paper, and you often need to sample it to see how it does perform (this is where ink reviews can help a lot)
  • be prepared to only use one side of the page, because of bleed through
  • this is where you can almost always cost-justify nicer paper, because you can actually use it on both sides!

Troubleshooting - (51:52)

6) Lesley S.- Blog - (51:53)
how do you know when you are running out of ink? One of my worst fears is running out of ink when I am in the middle of a meeting or somewhere else when I am taking notes. What are the signs that ink is low, especially where you can't see how full your pen is?
  • it depends on the pen
  • if it's truly running out, it will usually start to run dry, lines will be weak, color will lighten, flow will start to break/hard start
  • cartridge/converter pens are easy, a quite open up and look into the pen body will tell you what's going on
  • some piston/vacuum pens have ink windows, that tells you there
  • if you have a sealed body (usually piston, could be eyedropper too, lever or cresent) with no ink window, that's when it's tough to tell
  • one trick is to turn your piston pen upside down, and screw the piston down so it squeezes out the air (have a paper towel handy) and see if it's all air, or if ink's coming out
  • Depending how far down the piston goes, will tell you how much ink is in there
  • eyedropper you can turn it upside down, open it up and look down in there
  • lever or crescent, similar to the piston pen but requires a little more finesse to keep from blobbing the ink everywhere
  • my favorite solution? Keep a backup pen with you in case you run out!

Business - (1:01:55)

7) sarahabetz- Instagram - (1:01:56)
Is it a job requirement for Goulet employees to like fountain pens? Or can they *gasp* prefer ball point?
  • haha, no it's not a job requirement, though it is often a consequence of working here
  • not everyone here becomes a complete pen fanatic, though there's a very high proportion
  • most of our team uses them on a regular basis, or at least really appreciates and gets excited about new ones that come out
  • we seldom hire anyone with previous pen experience (just the odds), though it can help if they've used them before
  • we do provide pens to everyone when they start work here, we want them to experience it themselves if nothing else, so they can appreciate what we have going on here

QOTW: What's your favorite summertime ink? - (1:04:33)

Thanks so much for joining us this week! You can catch up on any old Q&A videos you missed here.

Write On,
Brian Goulet
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Let’s talk about sex, folks—seriously. Let’s talk, again, about what constitutes consensual sex and what does not. This seems like something obvious that we should all know but it’s becoming increasingly clear that many of us do not. And because the Bill Cosby trial has brought this topic to the forefront of our attention, let’s take this moment to get conscious once and for all.

Consensual sex is when both parties willingly choose to participate. Consent should be clear and openly communicated. A person has the right to withdraw their consent to sexual activity at any time, despite what religion or some states may want to tell you. This last part is particularly important. North Carolina, for example, doesn’t believe that this is true. Right now, they have an antiquated and abusive law on the books that says that women cannot change their mind during sex even if things become violent. 

According to a 1979 state Supreme Court ruling, State v. Way, a man isn’t guilty of rape if he continues to have intercourse with a woman who asks him to stop, so long as she agreed to the encounter at the outset.

North Carolina is the only state with such a law on the books, and efforts to change it have been unsuccessful, even as women have spoken out about how the law has harmed them.

So we are all clear, this is a law that says that rape is perfectly legal. With archaic and vile laws like this in existence, it’s no wonder that Republican lawmakers would be so uninformed about sexual assault as to say incredibly asinine things like “legitimate rape.” Numerous women have come forward to press the state to change the law. They have described situations where they initially consented but changed their minds. One incident was taped. And while the tape confirmed the woman’s story, the police still did not charge her attacker. This law does not allow women to have any autonomy over their own bodies. It is downright frightening and a sobering reminder of how patriarchy and misogyny are incredibly real and powerful. So much so that in North Carolina, a woman not only doesn’t have the right to say yes (because that’s what consent really means), she also doesn’t have the right to say no. 

[syndicated profile] dailykos_feed

The Senate Trumpcare bill, like the House bill before it, is death (literally, in many cases) by a thousand cuts. If it doesn’t just strip your Medicaid, it’ll price you out of being able to get coverage or leave you with insurance that doesn’t cover what you need covered or—as Jonathan Cohn wonkily explains—leave you with higher deductibles:

Under the Affordable Care Act, the benchmark plan is a “silver” plan. Silver plans have an “actuarial value” (AV) of 70, which means they should cover roughly 70 percent of the typical person’s medical expenses. Under the Senate proposal, the benchmark plan would be a policy with an AV of 58 ― in other words, a plan that would cover just 58 percent of the typical person’s medical expenses. That’s pretty close to what, under the Affordable Care Act, qualifies as a “bronze” plan. [...]

In 2016, the median deductible in a silver plan on healthcare.gov was $3,500 a year, according to the Center on Medicare and Medicaid Services. This, roughly speaking, is the plan that Obamacare is designed to help consumers get. In 2016, the median deductible in a bronze plan on healthcare.gov was $6,300. This ― again, roughly speaking ― is the plan that Senate Republicans want to help consumers get. 

The effects could be even bigger for low-income people:

Somebody making $20,000 a year could easily see deductibles increase dramatically, from $1,000 (the average deductible for lowest-income consumers in 2016, according to Aviva Aron-Dine of the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities) up to that $6,300 average. And for somebody at that income level ― think a home care worker or retail clerk barely covering costs like food and rent ― even modestly higher out-of-pocket medical costs would be crippling.

Of course low-income people would be especially screwed. Of course. This is a Republican plan, after all. But there’s plenty of pain to go around, all to pay for a tax cut for the wealthy.

[syndicated profile] dailykos_feed

Donald Trump was interviewed about Thursday’s tweet, issued at prime distract-from-horrible-Senate-healthcare-bill time, saying that he never had any recordings of his conversations with James Comey. In this interview, Trump issues a declaration of just how smart him be.

As with most Trump explanations, this one first needs to be translated into English.

Trump: Well I didn’t tape him. Uh. You never know what’s happening when you see that the Obama administration, and perhaps longer than that, was doing all this unmasking and, uh, surveillance, and you read all about it—and I’ve been reading all about it for the last couple of months. About the seriousness of the … And horrible situation with the surveillance all over the place. And you’ve been hearing the word ‘unmasking’ — a word you probably never heard before. So you don’t know what’s out there. 

Translation: I worry that Barack Obama is under my desk.

Trump: But I didn’t tape, and I don’t have any tape. And I didn’t tape. 

Translation: I totally taped him.

Trump then goes on to say that he thinks Comey may have changed his story. This prompts an assist from his chirpy Fox & Friends of Donald Trump interviewer who praises Trump for pretending to have tapes. Sorry, “Tapes.”

Fox: It was a smart way to make sure he stayed honest in those hearings!

Trump: Well … uh. It wasn’t … uh. It wasn’t very stupid, I can tell you that.

That’s right. Donald Trump trapped James Comey into being honest … by lying. Him not stupid!

cmcmck: (Default)
[personal profile] cmcmck
 Huzzah! Photobucket have finally deigned to get their $%^&! act together after being down for several hours.

So, the walk I promised you yesterday!

This is the headstock of the mine cage I posted yesterday- if that cable ever snapped, you had a lot of dead and badly injured miners on your hands:



More pics! )
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When the Republicans finally released their secretive wealthcare bill yesterday, several horrible elements immediately jumped out, many or most of them affecting citizens 46 years of age and older. Wealthcare bill provisions would decimate Medicaid, which 64% of nursing home residents rely on. The bill would allow insurance companies to charge higher rates to people with pre-existing conditions, something that would affect an estimated 130 million Americans, many over the age of 50 years old. And finally, the wealthcare bill includes an “age tax” that would mean beginning at age 46 years old, insurance companies could begin charging up to five times more than premiums for younger people:

The AHCA would raise that limit: Premiums for older people could jump to five times the amount insurers charge younger consumers, from the limit of three times the younger consumers’ rate under the current law, the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Such a change would significantly increase financial burdens on millions of older adults, but the shift in costs would do little to get more young consumers to enroll.

Needless to say, this will have a dramatic effect on the 38 million members of AARP and they released a very strong statement vowing to hold all 100 senators accountable for their vote:

“This new Senate bill was crafted in secrecy behind closed doors without a single hearing or open debate—and it shows. The Senate bill would hit millions of Americans with higher costs and result in less coverage for them. AARP is adamantly opposed to the Age Tax, which would allow insurance companies to charge older Americans five times more for coverage than everyone else while reducing tax credits that help make insurance more affordable.    

“AARP is also deeply concerned that the Senate bill cuts Medicaid funding that would strip health coverage from millions of low-income and vulnerable Americans who depend on the coverage, including 17 million poor seniors and children and adults with disabilities. The proposed Medicaid cuts would leave millions, including our most vulnerable seniors, at risk of losing the care they need and erode seniors’ ability to live in their homes and communities.

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Thursday, protesters with disabilities gathered outside Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s office to stage a die-in calling attention to Trumpcare’s massive cuts to Medicaid. It was a shocking scene as Capitol police dragged them away and arrested them. But when you find out what was at stake, it’s clear why people would risk harm and arrest to protest this. The foundation of millions of people’s ability to live independent lives is at stake, the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities explains:

People with disabilities account for more than 1 in 5 Medicaid beneficiaries under age 65.  Nationwide, nearly 13 million non-elderly Americans with disabilities receive health coverage through Medicaid, including more than 2 million children. Nearly half of non-elderly people with disabilities have their health care covered through Medicaid. 

Medicaid is crucial for people with disabilities. It provides comprehensive health benefits and serves as the primary payer for essential long-term services and supports that help people with disabilities stay independent in their homes. Many of these long-term care services are unavailable through private insurance and are too costly for all but the wealthiest people to fund out of pocket, such as personal and attendant care services. Medicaid can also cover wheelchairs, lifts, and case management services. And Medicaid can help people with disabilities find and hold jobs. A number of states provide supportive employment programs through Medicaid that offer services to help people with disabilities join the workforce.

For many, Medicaid cuts would mean being forced out of their homes and into institutions:

The House bill would place a fixed cap on per-beneficiary federal Medicaid funding, cutting federal funding to the states by growing amounts over time. This would force many states to make excruciating decisions on whom they cover, the benefits they provide, and how much they pay providers, and likely would jeopardize coverage and care for vulnerable populations that Medicaid covers. People with disabilities who rely on Medicaid-funded services to avoid having to live in a nursing home or other institution would be among those hit hardest. The House bill’s cuts would likely prompt many states to roll back their progress in expanding access to care in the community and prevent them from making more progress in the future. That’s because unlike most services in Medicaid, which states must cover, most home- and community-based services are optional Medicaid benefits that states can cut when they face funding shortfalls.

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Posted by Lydia at Goulet Pens

The Edison Nouveau Premiere Delphinium is a gorgeous combination of rich purple and bold blue with ribbons of white.

What better way to celebrate the budding new summer season than with the exciting announcement of the latest collaboration between Edison Pen Co. and The Goulet Pen Company? The 15th seasonal edition of the Edison Nouveau Premiere is a rare blossom indeed, with petals of blue and purple throughout the swirled acrylic body. Aptly named Delphinium, the Edison Nouveau Premiere Summer 2017 edition is the embodiment of happiness and fun new experiences, much like its floral namesake. The Delphinium flower also holds a special meaning for Brian and Rachel. Rachel explains, "royal blue was one of our wedding colors and I wanted that color in our flowers. The florist suggested Delphinium because it is one of the only naturally blue flowers (and is in season in August, which is when we got married), so we went with that." So, this flower seemed an appropriate choice for the latest Premiere design. But don't hesitate too long, these beautiful blooms are only available for a limited time!

The Edison Nouveau Premiere Delphinium is a gorgeous combination of rich purple and bold blue with ribbons of white.Brian and Rachel Goulet's wedding photos, featuring blue delphinium.

The Edison Nouveau Premiere Delphinium is a gorgeous combination of rich purple and bold blue with ribbons of white. The pens are handmade by Edison Pen Co. in Milan, OH. Each pen has a unique appearance and the swirls vary by pens. The body is slightly translucent and would make for an interesting eyedropper pen if you enjoy catching glimpses of the ink swishing around inside. You can easily convert it with a bit of silicone grease. Check out Brian's video on how to eyedropper a pen here! The pen also comes with a standard international converter and is compatible with standard international cartridges. The pen is packaged in a lovely gift box.

The Edison Nouveau Premiere Delphinium is a gorgeous combination of rich purple and bold blue with ribbons of white.The Edison Nouveau Premiere Delphinium is a gorgeous combination of rich purple and bold blue with ribbons of white.

The Edison Nouveau Premiere takes a #6 nib and comes with your choice of a smooth writing Edison steel nib in EF, F, M, B, 1.1mm, and 1.5mm Stub. You can also upgrade to an 18kt Rhodium-plated gold nib for an additional $150. Replacement steel nibs are available for $25 in EF, F, M, B, 1.1mm, and 1.5mm Stub, if you'd like additional nib sizes to try out with your pen. Brian describes the Edison nibs as smooth-writing with a nice flow and just a hint of feedback. Not sure how to go about swapping nibs? Check out Brian's video!



Which inks would look spectacular with this pen? Check out our ink recommendations below!

Monteverde Ink Set - Summer 2017, featuring Charoite, Horizon Blue, and Caribbean Blue.

The Edison Nouveau Premiere is available at GouletPens.com for $149. You can find all of the product specs and dimensions, as well as additional details, on the product page.

The Edison Nouveau Premiere Delphinium is a gorgeous combination of rich purple and bold blue with ribbons of white.

What is your favorite summer color pairing?

Write on,
The Goulet Pen Company Team

Cartoon: Friend or foe

June 23rd, 2017 01:51 pm
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U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East is getting curiouser and curiouser. Soon after President Trump’s recent visit, a major rift happened between Saudi Arabia and Qatar (among others). Trump came out firmly in support of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. If you were just getting a handle on the various Sunni and Shiite players, now add in a rift between Sunni nations.  

The Middle East’s already-complicated foreign policy picture just got decidedly more complicated. The Saudi royals and Trump explain the Qatar rift as being all about terrorism and Islamic extremism, but Saudi Wahhabism is not exactly a model of religious tolerance and democracy. Hmmm, could there be a business angle to this entire confusing mess?

If Qatar is so evil, then why is the U.S. Navy conducting joint training exercises with them right now? It seems that the White House and the Pentagon aren’t on the same page when it comes to foreign policy. Keep your eyes peeled and enjoy the cartoon. (And be sure to visit me over on Patreon!)

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Posted by Fred Clark

Those of us who have served time in conservative Christian youth groups recognize this theme from the many, many Why Wait lectures we heard. Your purity and innocence, the lecture always said, are the Greatest Gift that you can offer to your spouse on your wedding day. Setting aside the merits of this particular pitch for chastity, the strange thing here is finding that the inner monologue of jet-setting, secular, un-saved Buck Williams sounds like a True Love Waits seminar.
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Donald Trump asks the question frequently, and always with a sneer: If President Barack Obama knew that Vladimir Putin had intervened in the United States’ election with the direct intention of helping Trump, why did Obama wait so long to say anything? The answer detailed in a new story from the Washington Post turns out to be simple: First, Obama was trying to do the right things. Second, Republicans stopped that from happening.

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As former Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson testified earlier this week, the Russian activity in the election went beyond just hacking into emails, beyond distributing those emails through Wikileaks, and beyond creating a stream of fake-news stories that were eagerly shared by alt-right websites and social media. Russia took unprecedented “active measures,” attempting to penetrate state databases and alter or delete voter roles.

It was tantamount a secret declaration of war by Russia, and the Obama administration treated it the security and care that it deserved.

Early last August, an envelope with extraordinary handling restrictions arrived at the White House. Sent by courier from the CIA, it carried “eyes only” instructions that its contents be shown to just four people: President Barack Obama and three senior aides. …

The material was so sensitive that CIA Director John Brennan kept it out of the President’s Daily Brief, concerned that even that restricted report’s distribution was too broad. The CIA package came with instructions that it be returned immediately after it was read. To guard against leaks, subsequent meetings in the Situation Room followed the same protocols as planning sessions for the Osama bin Laden raid.

At that early stage, they couldn’t tell the full extent of the Russian operations. They didn’t know the scale of the attack. They couldn’t tell who in the United States might be cooperating with the Russians. They could only be certain about one thing.

The intelligence captured Putin’s specific instructions on the operation’s audacious objectives — defeat or at least damage the Democratic nominee, Hillary Clinton, and help elect her opponent, Donald Trump.

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Mitch McConnell released what he and his leadership team are calling a "discussion draft" of Trumpcare on Thursday, calling it the "Better Care Reconciliation Act" (wags immediately added "Plan" to the end of the title so we can call it BRCAP). It's being carefully presented as just a discussion bill to give Republican senators the opportunity to publicly declare that that bill "as written" is unacceptable to them, from both the extreme right and the mainstream far right that passes for "moderate" these days.

This will allow McConnell to make some tweaks—like throwing a few billion more into opioid addiction treatment, or giving Medicaid expansion one more year to exist, or making the tax credits even more penurious to keep the undeserving from getting them—that will allow factions to declare victory on their particular issues and 50 of them to support the bill. Two Senators, one of which will likely be Nevada's Dean Heller will probably be allowed to vote no. Most of the in-fighting and posturing of the next week will be who gets to be the second one.

There's a helluva lot for the so-called moderates to oppose. Any hopes that the Senate would make the bill less harsh than what the House passed last month, the American Healthcare Act (AHCA) have been dashed. Here's some of the top line destruction it will create.

It will destroy Medicaid more completely than the House bill. While it waits until 2021 to phase out Medicaid expansion, it still ends it, and with it coverage for some 14 million Americans. It makes deeper future cuts to Medicaid than the House bill, setting a limit on per-person spending for states, and tying increases in that spending limit to the overall consumer price index, a measure that grows much more slowly than the increase in health spending, the measure the House bill used. In the long term, that means Medicaid will be cut far deeper in BCRAP. It ends Medicaid as we know it. It jeopardizes coverage for 1 in 5 Americans, for half of all births, for two-thirds of all seniors in nursing homes, for three-quarters of poor children.

It gives 400 of the country's  highest-earning families a $33 billion tax break, blood money for those Medicaid cuts. Those cuts "roughly equal the federal cost of maintaining the expansion in Nevada, West Virginia, Arkansas, and Alaska combined." Among those getting a big tax cut: health insurance CEOs. The Affordable Care Act taxed CEO income over $500,000, BCRAP ends that.

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The Daily Kos Elections Morning Digest is compiled by David Nir, Jeff Singer, Stephen Wolf, and Carolyn Fiddler, with additional contributions from David Jarman, Steve Singiser, Daniel Donner, James Lambert, and David Beard.

Leading Off

NV-Gov: On Thursday, Democratic Clark County Commissioner Steve Sisolak announced he was running for governor in 2018, making him the first prominent candidate from either party to jump into the race to succeed term-limited Republican Gov. Brian Sandoval. Sisolak serves as chairman of the seven-member commission in a county that covers the greater Las Vegas area and over two-thirds of the Silver State's population, giving him a prominent springboard for higher office.

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Sisolak's commission record will also give opponents chances to attack him, though, particularly over a controversial $750 million hotel tax to pay for part of a new $1.9 billion football stadium to bring the Oakland Raiders to Las Vegas. However, Sisolak starts the race with over $3 million in cash on hand since he can transfer leftover funds from his 2016 re-election campaign to a statewide contest.

Democrats regained both legislative chambers in 2016 amid Hillary Clinton's 48-46 victory statewide, and they quickly set about passing an ambitious progressive agenda only to see Sandoval veto measures such as a Medicaid buy-in health care public option and automatic voter registration. Consequently, if Democrats win the gubernatorial race next year for the first time since 1994, they could gain unified control over state government for the first time in over a quarter century, meaning the stakes are enormous in this evenly divided swing state.

Despite those high stakes, this race has been surprisingly slow to develop. Republican state Attorney General Adam Laxalt is widely expected to run and appears to be his party's front-runner at the moment, but he has yet to even acknowledge publicly that he's actively considering it. Laxalt released a poll in early June that had him leading Sisolak 46-37, but with practically no other polling of the race, it's hard to know where things stand. It's not even certain that both men will win their respective parties' nominations, since Republican state Treasurer Dan Schwartz has previously said he was considering it, while wealthy Democratic businessman Stephen Cloobeck has reportedly been quite interested too.

Daily Kos Radio is TAPED at 9 AM ET!

June 23rd, 2017 12:01 pm
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I’m not taking the day off. I’m a method actor, studying for the role of Daniel Day Lewis portraying me preparing for the biopic, “The Day Off,” in the Lewis biopic, “Not a Day Off.”

It hurts your brain to think about it, but trust me, it’s procedurally sound.

Anyway, the real point is, I’ve got an all-new show for you today, even though I’m on the road.

I’m not actually going anywhere. I’m also studying for a role as a road.

Listen LIVE (from your perspective, anyway), right here at 9:00 AM ET!

NPR not doing it for you? Have the networks left you mad as hell? Think The New York Times isn’t fit to print? Well, uh… that’s bad! And if I’m not mistaken, you want good, not bad.

Kagro in the Morning is good!

Imagine reading and discussing the news every morning with your favorite Daily Kos editors! Now imagine doing that with David Waldman, Greg Dworkin, Joan McCarter, and even Armando! Pretty close, right?

Why let the corporate news drive you crazy with biased content and exorbitant subscription fees, when Daily Kos Radio can do it at half the cost? Help keep us up and running with a monthly, sustaining donation to our Patreon account! Or choose your own schedule with our Square Cash account.

Imagine what we could do together! I have a feeling it would sound something like this:

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Remember how life was, back before the Senate Republicans released their Trumpcare bill? KITM does. In fact, today’s entire show was recorded in those more innocent times, making David Waldman and Greg Dworkin’s prescient analysis even more trenchant... So quit being distracted by the “new” news and listen to this stuff first! The Senate say they have some divisions in their ranks on their health-care tax bill, but really, they knew what it wastax cuts for the rich, and Medicaid destroyed. Republicans know opposition to the House bill has doubled among even Republican voters, but they bet this won’t matter for their reelection, and they are relying on the media forgetting before 2018. So—deductibles and out-of-pocket go up? Yep. Lives of the neediest on Medicaid ruined or destroyed? Sure! Strangle Planned Parenthood? Of course! But think of all of the regulations and taxes going away! Mitch would be happy to throw out a lot of Senate rules to make that happen. All of this distracts from Trump’s Russian collusion, as Dan Coats and Mike Rogers could tell you, but no, not the President. Today was not the day Donald trump finally became president, because he remains a candidate, and somehow he’s the worst at that too. Campaign Finance Law: When “Collusion” with a foreign government becomes a crime. The FBI fired Sebastian Gorka for anti-Muslim diatribes, but it’s a living.

(Thanks again to Scott Anderson for the show summary!)

Need more info on how to listen? Find it below the fold.

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We begin today’s roundup with The New York Times and its editorial on the Senate Republican health care bill, which is nothing more than a massive tax cut for the wealthy at the expense of the nation’s most vulnerable:

It would be a big mistake to call the legislation Senate Republicans released on Thursday a health care bill. It is, plain and simple, a plan to cut taxes for the wealthy by destroying critical federal programs that help provide health care to tens of millions of people. [...]

If passed in its current form, the Senate bill would greatly weaken Medicaid, the federal-state program that provides insurance to nearly 69 million people, more than any other government or private program. It would do this by gradually but inexorably shifting more of the financial burden of Medicaid to states, in effect, forcing them to cover fewer people and to provide fewer services. Over all, the Senate would reduce federal spending by about $1 trillion over 10 years and use almost that much to cut taxes for rich families and health care companies.

The Washington Post agrees:

It includes a range of mostly unwise and ungenerous changes to the nation’s health-care system, but it might, if enacted, end up as mostly a massive, unpaid-for tax cut for wealthy people and industries with pull on Capitol Hill. [...] 

The cynicism of this exercise is evident in its staging. The bill would kill a variety of taxes right away, but the subsidy and Medicaid cuts would not phase in until after the 2018 midterm election. It would be left to future Congresses to allow severe cuts to the safety net or major expansion of the federal debt, or a combination of the two. Instead of forcing this choice between Americans’ physical health and the nation’s fiscal health, senators should end this repeal-and-replace disaster now.

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[personal profile] ladyofleithian
In which just about all is revealed.

Disclaimer: I own nothing.

Author's Notes: Trigger warning for slut-shaming language and implied child abuse.

I know you. I've felt you. )
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The gunman who entered a Washington pizza restaurant to investigate false allegations peddled by Alex Jones and other conspiracy theorists that the building was a hub for a child-trafficking ring supposedly connected to Hillary Clinton has been sentenced to four years in prison.

Federal prosecutors countered in their memo to the judge that it was “entirely the product of good luck” that no one was shot. They urged Jackson to send a strong message to deter those who would commit violence based solely on “malicious and misguided” Internet rumors.

“Beyond Pizzagate, the Internet is full of wild conspiracy theories where people urge members of the public . . . to take action,” wrote the assistant U.S. attorneys Ahn and Sonali D. Patel. [...]

“A significant sentence is required to deter other people from pursuing vigilante justice based only on their YouTube feed,” prosecutors wrote.

Prosecutors had asked for a four and a half year sentence.

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At on this date in 2007Good ideas that are bad politics:

So here's the deal.  Five years, no new highways.  No new bridges, bypasses, nothing.  Instead, we allocate the same money for highways, but we spend half of it on fixing up the infrastructure we already have, and the other half building up public transportation so we don't need as many highways.  Bonus funding for any city that gets rid of existing lanes.

On today’s Kagro in the Morning show, you didn’t have to wait for the Gop health care tax bill text to know how bad it was. Greg Dworkin told you! The FBI once “fired” Sebastian Gorka for his anti- Muslim scamming. The argument for treating Trump-Russia as a campaign finance violation story. YouTube | iTunes | LibSyn | Keep us on the air! Donate via Patreon or Square Cash

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Public workers in Washington state are getting temporary layoff notices, as the state could be headed for a government shutdown on July 1 if the Republican-held state Senate and Democratic state House and governor can’t reach a budget agreement before then. The legislature is under court order to fix school underfunding, and—surprise!—Republicans are rejecting most options for adding revenue and refusing to negotiate. The editorial board of The Olympian writes:

Basically this fight didn’t need to play out this way. It pits the Democratic-majority state House against a Republican-controlled Senate, but fundamentally it is ideology on the GOP side that is blocking progress.

The Democrats have been realistic about the need for new revenue. Republicans have dug in with fervor against new taxes — with one self-serving exception.

The GOP favors jacking up property taxes on mostly urban areas that have sky-high property valuations, housing affordability issues and Democratic representation. That won’t work morally or politically. Their members are justify this overall tax increase by telling their supporters that it actually means tax cuts in their districts.

So far, Democrats have showed some willingness to compromise. First, Gov. Jay Inslee suggested House Democrats pull a capital gains tax proposal off the table. Inslee, a Democrat who had proposed the tax, was acknowledging it would probably not pass in the Senate where Republicans adamantly oppose it.

But Republicans, of course, won’t compromise. As a result, Washington residents and workers are looking at a shutdown that would cause more than 50,000 senior citizens to lose meals, tens of thousands of families to lose child care, and state parks to close. Workers’ compensation claims wouldn’t be processed, workplace safety inspections would stop, veterans would lose PTSD counseling, an enormous range of healthcare services would halt, people with disabilities wouldn’t get vocational rehabilitation services, and much, much, much more.

Par for the Republican course, in other words. Stay tuned.

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As a society, we are a long way from dealing with rape humanely. In part, this is because many of us still don’t understand what consent is and that it’s not just about a person’s right to say no but also about their right to say yes. Our legal system is woefully inadequate when it comes to addressing sexual assault and victim shaming combined with laws that favor the accused are powerful reasons that many choose not to come forward.

In Alabama, college student Megan Rondini did everything victims are told to do when she reported her assault by a prominent local businessman. Her experience with the criminal justice system was so horrific that she committed suicide. 

Under Alabama’s archaic rape law, victims must prove they “earnestly” resisted their attackers, and the investigator who interviewed Megan quickly decided she hadn’t fought back against Bunn — she hadn’t “kicked him or hit him," he explained. His investigation would conclude that no rape occurred. But he didn’t stop there. Instead, he started building a case against Megan, questioning her for multiple crimes she wasn’t even aware she had committed.

Megan met T.J. Bunn, Jr. in a local bar. She did not remember how she ended up in his car on the way to his house but she did clearly recall that she was sober enough to tell him that she did not want to have sex with him. After telling him that she had to go multiple times and him not allowing her to leave, she “felt like just letting him have sex with me was the only way he would let me go.” This is absolutely not the same thing as consent. After he passed out, she tried to get out of his bedroom but the door was locked. She took his handgun for protection and $3 from his wallet, just in case she needed it. She then climbed out of a window in his house and broke into his car looking for her keys. She could not find them but managed to text a friend who picked her up and took her to the hospital where she met with law enforcement to report her assault. That is when she learned that the law and the community would do it all could to protect Bunn, the son of an influential family, instead of her. 

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June 22nd, 2017 06:39 pm
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Things I need to remember:
• Asking for help is not, as it turns out, fatal.
• Laughing is easier than pulling your hair out, and doesn't have the unfortunate side effect of making you look like a plague victim.
• Even the biggest tasks can be defeated if taken a bit at a time.
• I can write a paper the night before it's due, but the results are not all they could be.
• Be thorough, but focused.
• Trust yourself.
• Honesty, always.

Historians are the Cassandras of the Humanities

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